The Top 24 Fantasy Running Backs 2010, updated 8/17

SEATTLE - JANUARY 03: Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on January 3, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
After eight years of fantasy football, the biggest change I have noticed in the NFL is at the running back. There are fewer true number one guys to pick from. We are in the era of platoons, the biggest key this year is trying to get a RB that will be on the field.

Here is my evolving draft sheet, first posted on July 7th, updated for July 23, and again for August 17.

2009 Stats from Yahoo! Fantasy Football players page, 2010 projections from fftoday.com

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 14: NFL player Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans winner of the Best Breakthrough Athlete Award poses in press room during the 2010 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
1. Chris Johnson, TEN
2009 – Rushing 2006 yards, 14 TD Receiving 503 yards, 2 TD – 342.9 points
2010* – Rushing 1472 yards, 12 TD Receiving 466 yards, 2 TD – 271.8 points

What else can he show us? 1200 yards his rookie season, followed by 2000 in year two, we are looking at potential Hall of Fame numbers. He is the clear number one coming into the draft, but considering he has carried the ball 609 times in his very short time in the NFL, I would grab the rookie that will back him up (once that is decided, they have a stable of 3 behind him) in the later rounds for insurance.

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
2. Adrian Peterson, MIN
2009 – Rushing 1383 yards, 18 TD Receiving 436 yards, 0 TD – 277.9 points
2010* – Rushing 1576 yards, 14 TD Receiving 356 yards, 1 TD – 273.2 points

Last season we saw many teams decide that Peterson was not going to beat them. His numbers took a big hit from his 2008 total of 1760 yards. He is creeping toward my number one spot, with the retirement of Brett Favre he should see an increase in touches, but I still think Johnson will have the better fantasy season.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice charges up field in the first half of the Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on January 31, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
3. Ray Rice, BAL
2009 – Rushing 1339 yards, 7 TD Receiving 702 yards, 1 TD – 246.1 points
2010* – Rushing 1265 yards, 8 TD Receiving 602 yards, 2 TD – 240.7 points

I have a feeling that Ray is in for his best year as a pro. The Ravens will up his workload from 250 carries to around 300, and Willis McGahee will steal fewer TDs. He has averaged 5 yards per carry in his first two years, and his receiving ability makes it very hard to set up a game plan to stop him.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars gives the 'ok' sign prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX
2009 – Rushing 1391 yards, 15 TD Receiving 274 yards, 1 TD – 270 points
2010* – Rushing 1298 yards, 14 TD Receiving 444 yards, 2 TD – 264 points

Last year was MJDs first as the lone feature back in Jacksonville’s offense. Free of fragile Fred Taylor, MJD put up his finest fantasy season. He was feast or famine, high points of 177 yards and 3 TDs vs the Rams, low points of 34 yards 0 TD vs Seattle. This year I predict more stability, it is his nose for the endzone that makes him so potentially valuable.

5. ? Here is where we enter the winter of our discontent. 5-12 contains many solid running backs, but all with some things that make me a little uneasy making him my top RB. But with the way things look going into the season, at least these are all solid #1’s with minimal risk of having the backup steal carries and TDs.

Jan 31, 2010; Miami, FL, USA; NFC running back Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers (21) during the 2010 Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. The AFC defeated the NFC 41-34.
Frank Gore, SF
2009 – Rushing 1120 yards, 10 TD Receiving 406 yards, 3 TD – 226.6 points
2010* – Rushing 1195 yards, 9 TD Receiving 385 yards, 2 TD – 218 points

Excluding his rookie season when he earned his job, Gore has had a very solid, but somewhat unspectacular run. Averaging 250 carries and a little over 1000 yards each of the last three seasons, there is little reason to think he will not do it again. However its the time in the draft to think about a game breaking QB or WR that will be more than a solid 10 in the bank every week.

Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall (34) runs for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Heinz Field on December 27, 2009. UPI Photo/Stephen Gross Photo via Newscom
6. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT
2009 – Rushing 1108 yards, 7 TD Receiving 261 yards, 1 TD – 179 points
2010* – Rushing 1225 yards, 11 TD Receiving 256 yards, 1 TD – 212 points

The Steelers are looking to reestablish the run this season, and it is now time for third year back Mendenhall to step it up and prove he belongs in the league. With Big Ben out for the first 4 games he will have plenty of opportunities.

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 08:  Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons against the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on November 8, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
7. Michael Turner, ATL
2009 – Rushing 871 yards, 10 TD Receiving 35 yards – 146.6 points
2010* – Rushing 1225 yards, 13 TD Receiving 77 yards – 211 points

His 2009 season was cut short by a high ankle sprain, but he is once again ready to be the man in Atlanta. Durability is an obvious concern, but he has the job to himself. If he stays healthy its 1300 yards and 10 TD in the bank with potential for much more.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson during the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 8, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. UPI/David Richard Photo via Newscom
8. Cedric Benson, CIN
2009 – Rushing 1251 yards 6 TD Receiving 111 yards 172 points
2010* – Rushing 1170 yards 8 TD Receiving 140 yards 1 TD 181 points

Now that the commish has declared no suspension for Benson, I can put him on my list. He appears in the top 10 because he will shoulder the majority of the Bengals rushing load this season and has little competition behind him to steal carries.

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
9. DeAngelo Williams, CAR
2009 – Rushing 1117 yards, 7 TD Receiving 252 yards 172 points
2010* – Rushing 1156 yards, 10 TD Receiving 286 yards, 1 TD 210 points
Had some injury problems last year that allowed Johnathan Stewart to shine, but he could well return to his 2008 top 10 fantasy status. Despite terrible QB play the panthers top backs racked up over 2200 yards last season, its all a question of how they will divide them up this year. This is the one RB competition I have my eye on, any kind of preseason setback could have DeAngelo tumbling out of my top 10.

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 06:  Running back Jamal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs tries to turn the corner as safety Brian Dawkins #20 of the Denver Broncos defends during the game on December 6, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
10. Jamal Charles, KC
2009 – Rushing 1120 yards, 7 TD Receiving 297 yards, 1 TD – 183.7 points
2010*  – Rushing 1079 yards, 8 TD Receiving 316 yards, 1 TD – 187 points

Caught absolute fire the last half of 09, but he is falling because timeless Thomas Jones is having an excellent camp coming off his finest year as a pro.

Jan 10, 2010; Glendale, AZ, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant (25) during the 2010 NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 51-45 in overtime.
11. Ryan Grant, GB
2009 – Rushing 1253 yards, 11 TD Receiving 197 yards, 0 TD – 209 points
2010* – Rushing 1195 yards, 9 TD Receiving 225 yards, 1 TD – 196 points

His three years in the NFL have been very consistent, 1200 yards in each of the last two years, and he is on a stable team with a good young quarterback. Again I see good numbers coming out of Grant, but nothing to get excited about. He does have the backfield to himself, that’s more than you can say about most backs when you get down this far. He drops on my list due to a concussion suffered during the preseason, and they always have some lingering effects.

St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson (C) is slowed by the San Francisco 49ers defense during a run in the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis on January 3, 2010. San Francisco won the game 28-6. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom
12. Steven Jackson, STL
2009 – Rushing 1424 yards, 4 TD Receiving 314 yards – 193.8 points
2010* – Rushing 1265 yards, 7 TD Receiving 345 yards, 2 TD – 209.5 points

He will drive someone insane this year. With the sheer amount of platooning, SJ is up here only because there is no one else in the Rams backfield that can overtake him, and the dude put up some solid numbers despite being on a terrible team. Injuries are starting to pile up, but as long as the Rams improve at least a little SJ will have a solid year, but there will be headaches for whomever ends up with him on their roster.

NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 16: Pierre Thomas of the New Orleans Saints shows off his ring from Superbowl XLIV on June 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
13. Pierre Thomas, NO
2009 – Rushing 793 yards, 6 TD 155 points Receiving 302 yards, 2 TD 175 points
2010* – Rushing 921 yards, 8 TD 155 points Receiving 289 yards, 1 TD 175 points

With Mike Bell no longer in the picture, Thomas should improve upon his numbers from last year. He is the top back in the NFL’s most exciting offense, points will be put up. Durability is my main concern, he has yet to see all 16 games in a season in his career. If you grab Thomas in round one, make sure to grab his backup Lynell Hamilton in round 12+.

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ryan Matthews #21 of the Frenso State Bulldogs tires to break a tackle by Alterraun Verner #1 and Bret Lockett #25 of the UCLA Bruins during the game on September 27, 2008 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
14.Ryan Matthews, SD
2009 – DNP
2010* – Rushing 1289 yards, 11 TD Receiving 199 yards, 1TD 220 points

Matthews has moved up my board, but I still can’t justify taking a rookie as my RB1. The Chargers are implementing their own version of the Wildcat with Matthews as the “QB”, so its clear the Chargers believe in him, I just don’t quite yet.

New York Jets running back Shonn Greene (23) tries to break a tackle by Indianapolis Colts linebacker Philip Wheeler (50) during the first quarter of their AFC Championship Playoff game at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on January 24, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan
15. Shonn Greene, NYJ
2009 – Rushing 541 yards, 2 TD 60 points
2010* – Rushing 1356 yards, 12 TD 219 points

I would be weary of selecting him as my top back, but if you can steal him as your RB2, then go for it. Everything I have read assured me that he will be featured and have an outstanding season. He does have 4 of 5 lineman back from last years team that allowed old man Thomas Jones to rush for 1400+.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: Ricky Williams #34 of the Miami Dolphins passes the ball that is intercepted in the endzone during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo won 31-14. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
16. Ricky Williams, MIA
2009 – Rushing 1121 yards, 11 TD Receiving 264 yards, 2 TD 212 points
2010* – Rushing 1065 yards, 8 TD Receiving 235 yards, 1 TD 184 points

With reports that Ronnie Brown may not be 100% going into the season, I see Ricky as the main man in Miami this year. Not expecting anything spectacular, but enough to make him a good pick for your second RB slot.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy celebrates in the end zone after scoring a Philadelphia touchdown during fourth quarter Philadelphia Eagles-San Francisco 49ers game action in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field December 20, 2009. Philadelphia defeated San Francisco 27-13. UPI/John Anderson Photo via Newscom
17. LeSean McCoy, PHI
2009 Rushing 637 yards 4 TD Receiving 308 yards 116.5 points
2010 Rushing 856 yards Receiving 392 yards 1 TD 163 points

It will be interesting to see how the carries are divided between McCoy and Mike Bell, but with Bell’s history of injuries I see McCoy having the role to himself by mid season. On the plus side he catches a lot of balls, and the Eagles love to throw it to the back, I see a 1400 yard season split between rushing and receiving.

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 27: Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Broncos 30-27. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
18. Knowshon Moreno, DEN
2009 – Rushing 947 yards, 7 TD, Receiving 213 yards, 2 TD 162 points
2010* – Rushing 1120 yards, 8 TD Receiving 262 yards, 1 TD 192 points

Looking to improve upon a respectable rookie season. Questions abound in Denver, they have too many quarterbacks, traded one of the best fantasy receivers in the league, which will result in teams stacking the box vs Moreno. he falls because of an injured hammy on day one of training camp, while he is expected back for game 2 of the preseason, it remains to be seen if he is fully recovered

Washington Redskins Clinton Portis watches from the sidelines as the Redskins play the Denver Broncos at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on November 15, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom
19. Clinton Portis, WAS
2009 Rushing 494 yards, 1 TD Receiving 57 yards, 1 TD 65 points
2010* – Rushing 1065 yards, 7 TD Receiving 205 yards, 1 TD 175 points
How the mighty have fallen. Had his 2009 season cut short by injury, comes back with a new quarterback and coach. Looking at the Redskins RBs its a murders row of 2006 with Willie Parker and Larry Johnson joining him in the backfield. His is the youngest of the trio and his knowledge of the Shannahan system should give him the starters nod.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 21:  Running back Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants rushes four yards for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on December 21, 2009 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
20. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG
2009 – Rushing 778 yards, 7 TD Receiving 307 yards 136.5 points
2010* – Rushing 945 yards, 7 TD Receiving 265 yards, 2 TD 175 points

Screw Brandon Jacobs, he will get hut in the first game and Bradshaw will take over. I see him being middle of the road second fantasy starter by midseason.

BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 20:  Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bears 31-7. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
21. Matt Forte, CHI
2009 – Rushing 929 yards, 4 TD Receiving 471 yards
2010* – Rushing 876 yards, 6 TD Receiving 362 yards, 2 TD

A combination of now being in a Mike Martz offense, and the arrival of Chester Taylor, I don’t like Forte’s 2010 prospects.

MINNEAPOLIS - JANUARY 17: Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on January 17, 2010 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Cowboys 34-3. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
22/23 Felix Jones/Marion Barber, DAL

Doesn’t matter which one you take, be assured the one you didn’t will be the one that gets the points. Not sure if I want either one of these guys as my 2, but would love to have either as a 3.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 07: Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball against the New Orleans Saints during Super Bowl XLIV on February 7, 2010 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
24. Joseph Addai, IND

With Donald Brown stealing some of his already limited carries, Addai continues to slide out of the fantasy picture.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 3: Running back Fred Jackson #22 of Buffalo Bills cuts back during their NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Colts 30-7. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
25. Fred Jackson, BUF

Proved last year to be better than Marshawn Lynch, so the Bills reward him by taking CJ Spiller in the first round of this years draft. Will have a couple of nice games, but with the backfield being that crowded, look for it to hurt his production.

I will continue to update this list as the season approaches.

*= 2010 projection from fftoday.com based on MFL scoring.

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One Response to The Top 24 Fantasy Running Backs 2010, updated 8/17

  1. […] The Top 24 Fantasy Running Backs 2010, redux *** Updated*** […]

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